August 14 I Sunday
“…many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
A Roman centurion goes to Jesus asking Him to save his servant who is paralyzed and suffering greatly. Jesus asks whether He should go to heal the servant and the centurion said that he is undeserving of Jesus coming to his home. Instead, the centurion asks Jesus to say the word for his servant to be healed. Jesus tells the centurion, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” The commendation that Jesus gives would have shocked the crowd and probably upset them too for holding the centurion as a remarkable example of faith.
Jesus adds, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12). Do we understand what that statement does to the New Testament listener, the crowd, walking with Jesus? How dare Jesus say these things of Gentiles, that they are welcomed into the kingdom of heaven and seated with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the most celebrated patriarchs of the Jews? What gives Him the right to make these declarations?
Make no mistake, Jesus was disrupting decades of understanding and generations of teaching the system: to touch a leper, to go into the home of a Gentile, to elevate the faith of a Roman centurion and to say that Gentiles will be welcomed and the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown out. All of this is unheard of.
Yet, the gospel says that no matter who we are, what we have done or even what we are doing now, Jesus can deliver us. We simply need to recognize that the Son has the authority to transform our life with a touch, with a word. If we respond to Him by faith, He can heal us and make us whole again.
Some of us may feel like the leper, far from God, where we are going through something, and wondering if He sees us. Or maybe we are like the Roman centurion—we have been living large and in charge all our life, but have come up against something that we cannot figure out and feel powerless for the first time in our life. May we find comfort today to know that Jesus’s response to our problem is, “I am willing. If you trust and believe what I have done for you, I am willing.”
Prayer: Precious Lord Jesus, thank You for Your willingness to bring restoration into my life. I trust and believe You have the power and authority to change lives. Praise You!